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Usually it's best to avoid too much explanation in these pages, however today's tale runs the risk of falling flat unless you remember that Queen Victoria was devoted to her husband Albert, mourned for him for decades after his death, and had monuments erected in his honor.

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Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881) British statesman and celebrated writer, served as prime minister twice. One measure of the success he enjoyed was his ability to maintain cordial and productive relations with his sovereign, Victoria. This was in marked contrast to his long-time rival Gladstone, whom the queen despised.

The contrast was once summed up by a young woman who was acquainted with both men,

"When I leave the dining room after sitting next to Mr. Gladstone," she explained, "I thought he was the cleverest man in England. But after sitting next to Mr. Disraeli, I thought I was the cleverest woman in England."

Victoria once paid Disraeli the honor of visiting him at his country house near Beaconsfield. On his deathbed, Disraeli declined a second royal visit:

"Not it is better not," he explained, "She would only want me to take a message to dear Albert ..."

---------------A Final Thought ...

"It is well-known what a middleman is: he is a man who bamboozles one party and plunders the other."

- Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881), British statesman, author